The coffee is sweet to me this morning. Funny how something as simple as a cup of Joe can remind you of yourself, back then, before you became so jaded. Sitting close to my front door so I can catch the morning breeze, I drink my morning nectar, and remember a time when I was sweet, naïve, and trusting. That was a long, long time ago. And, coming back to the church after life altering circumstances has proven to be no easy task.
The beautiful thing about believing in God, the wonderful thing about believing, and trusting, in the very name of His son, Jesus, is the idea that through Him ALL things are possible. We believe it with our whole hearts; we lean on it. Without doubt, we hold on to the thought, allowing no room for anything to the contrary. There’s no doubt that standing on the promises of God is a positive move. But, when you take that thought, and use it to discount the fact that everybody has a different story, a different testimony, it can become problematic.
Jaded…I used to think that everything about church was perfect. Fresh, and sweet like this cup of coffee, I used to watch sinners straggle into the church, tired, broke down, in a perfect position for God to come into their hearts, and change the course of their lives. The sweetness in me would push me to smile so hard, and love them, wholeheartedly, just for being brave enough to come in the church doors. I would watch the elders pray, anointing the unclean with blessed oil, hollering “Loose here, Satan”! And, I was so fresh, so green, and young, that I thought, I believed, that once they got off the altar, once those elders finished praying for them, they would no longer have a care in the world. A child-like faith is amazing!
Adulthood takes away the sweetness, though. And, life is not as simple as a cup of coffee. I wish it were, but it’s not. I think church folk, those who have been delivered, and some who have not, forget what it was like before God took a place in their lives. Sitting in judgment, they say things like “Well, if you really wanted to do right”, and “If you really wanted to be saved, you’d”. But, just because it went one way for you, doesn’t mean it’s going to go the same for another. There are folks running to Jesus that have been through some things that some couldn’t even stir up in a nightmare, the kind of stuff that changes the sweet, and the trusting into someone they can’t even recognize themselves.
As I pour myself another cup, I think about some of the things I’ve experienced. And, maybe it’s the air coming in through the screen door, but a chill runs up my spine. I’ve been stomped into the mud, literally. I’ve been kicked in the head more times than I can count. Domestic violence is not a joke. I have been thrown from one side of the street, to the other. I’ve lost teeth from punches to the mouth. I have had my head split open from a south paw punch. And, while moving forward, and “letting go, and letting God” is all I want to do, I cannot pretend like experiencing that kind of brutality didn’t have a part in making me who I am today.
“Good understanding giveth favour; but the way of the transgressor is hard.”
After accepting Christ, the church expects you to be sweet all the time. The church does not often acknowledge post traumatic stress, anxieties, or depressions, because Jesus is the answer to it all. And, while I do believe in The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, and all the power that comes with that belief, I think it’s time for the church to understand that they are told not to judge for a reason. Only God can judge a person who has been through hell on earth. Only God can reach in, and rip out that kind of pain. And, only He can understand how difficult the road back to Him after those types of experiences can be. It’s time to understand that just because a person has a hard time bonding, or functioning well socially, or even smiling, doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing all that they can to be a part of the body of Christ. And, it shouldn’t leave them open to ridicule, or gossip. It shouldn’t make you want to not deal with them either. If your hand stops working, right now, if it starts to feel different, or look different from the rest of your body, would you laugh at it, call it crazy, or just not deal with it? No! You would do all that you could to make sure that your hand gets back in sync with the rest of your body. So, why wouldn’t you do the same for a person who has chosen to be a member of the body of Christ?
There are so many lost souls, some of them sitting right in the church house. They are scared to testify. They are scared to tell the church how they feel for fear of judgment. And, it shouldn’t be like that. Everybody has a testimony; every testimony is important. But, not everyone responds to everything the same way. Our job as Christians is not to judge, but to understand, and to love, the way that Christ loves us. Our job is to win souls by way of testimonials. And, some of those testimonies may be hard to hear, hard to understand if you’ve never experienced them….but they shouldn’t be discounted. So, let God do His job, His way. And, you stick to doing yours. But, don’t forget, as a Christian, your way should be His as well!